It’s possible that you, like us, have lost track of time amidst the quarantine. The fact is that it’s April, the month that typically puts festival season into high gear, with Coachella leading to Electric Daisy Carnival and Electric Daisy Carnival leading to Lightning In a Bottle and so forth, all the way across the summer to Burning Man and beyond.
With the coronavirus either cancelling or postponing April and May events and calling into question festivals happening during the following months, DJs are all off the road for the foreseeable future. This means the artists you might have discovered playing at 4:00 p.m. on a sidestage are now available only via the internet. Luckily, there’s a barrage of emerging electronic talent — from bass to techno — to be discovered this month.
Here are Billboard Dance’s Emerging Artists for April of 2020.
Originally hailing from Pretoria, South Africa (itself a home to a thriving bass scene), the now Philadelphia-based producer Chee crafts the type of trippy bass music that melts minds and travels through dimensions. His brand of low-end sound design is unique: eerie and slow-burning, yet riveting and darkly beautiful. It’s enough to have gained him support from his compatriots across the bass spectrum, including fellow weirdos Space Jesus, G Jones and Liquid Stranger as well as more mainstream acts such as Ekali, Bassnectar and Mat Zo.
His new Quarter Inch EP, out later this month on Zeds Dead’s tastemaker Deadbeats imprint, covers a lot of ground. Across the EP, he weaves waves of dank, dark, rattling subs with ghostly bleeps and bloops to shock you awake. Lead single “Vultures” creeps into your brain like a midnight fog rising up from the graveyard, then delivers the wobble effect at full impact. The stellar “Blood Thirsty” is equally sinister: It thumps like a bass line filling an abandoned laboratory, building tension throughout via layers of chilling emptiness.
Chee was confirmed to perform at the now-postponed EDC Las Vegas 2020 and the upcoming Shambhala festival in Canada this July, the latter of which has announced it will “proceed as planned” despite the coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime, Chee will be holding it down at the Digital Mirage online music festival happening this weekend. — JOHN OCHOA
I first saw Lubelski DJ at Desert Hearts’ 2018 festival. We were all dressed in glittering rags, huddled on some dusty field in Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, and things were just starting to get weird. His set was full of diggable house grooves and galactic bass lines. I screamed “ID?” 500 times until my voice was shot. Turns out, most of those songs were his own, and the years between then and now have seen those tunes released by Nervous, Sweat It Out!, Gruuv, Elrow, Repopulate Mars, Desert Hearts (of course) and his own label Percomaniacs.
In March, he released a 9-track album called The Universal Groove. Its bright, psychedelic sound pulses in warm and wonky bleep bloops. A thick thread of disco soul runs under its kooky currents, due in part to its great vocal collabs and perhaps Lubelski’s own multi-instrumentalism. Dude plays guitar, bass, drums, piano, cello, trombone and harmonica, so you never know what’s gonna squirrel its way into the track. He also just nabbed the intro track on Dirtybird’s Miami 2020 compilation and will release another EP on Melé’s label, Club Bad, on April 17. — KAT BEIN
While many artists choose to scrub the internet of their earliest work, Katie Campbell’s — a loop-based rap track called “Clap to the Crap Rap” that she made under the alias KayTee when she was 9 — is up for the world to hear in its simple glory. How did she arrive from there to Roza Terenzi, an artist to watch not just in Australia, but the underground electronic music community at large?
After a few years of making experimental electropop as Catlips, Campbell adopted the Terenzi name in 2016, and with it came a new sound combining house, electro and breaks with extraterrestrial sonics. Her music is a showcase in contrasts: simultaneously dreamy and driving, hard and soft, physically moving and cerebral. (Sure, you can dance to it, but wouldn’t you rather lie down, close your eyes and melt through your couch cushions into an alternate world?) The true constant, she told Resident Advisor, is an “element of fun or playfulness.” You’ll find those, too, in her DJ sets at clubs such as Säule, De School and Nowadays; and festivals including Dekmantel, Honcho Campout and Primavera Sound.
To date, Terenzi has released EPs on labels such as Voyage Recordings, Salt Mines and Butter Sessions, with a huge international bump last year via Dekmantel’s in-house label. Her next step: a full-length album, Modern Bliss, which arrives on April 17 via Planet Euphorique. — KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ
It’s no secret that Germany is a hotbed of talent for techno artists, but it takes a special touch to break out beyond the pack. Jan and Marcel are GNTN, a duo from the Ruhr region of Germany who have just done that. The young pair make alluring techno at a level that feels beyond their years, perfecting the art of a slow-burning arc in their sound with tracks that often feel mystical and melodic while still gripping and ripe for a peak time moment in the club.
GNTN have charged ahead with early releases out on revered labels such as Filth on Acid, Stil Vor Talent and Einmusika, and this month, they’re making their debut on yet another. Sharam’s Yoshitoshi is home to their newest release, a collaborative EP called Plastic Paranoia with U.K. producer Artche that arrives on April 17.
On the live front, the duo have already begun to tick off milestone shows including Germany’s Parookaville and venues such as Egg London. In the era of quarantine and social distancing, GNTN are keeping the momentum going, most recently joining the virtual lineup for Cologne venue Bootshaus’ live-stream channel for a vigorous set for those of us looking to bring the vibe of a late night out on the dance floor to the comfort of our own living rooms. — VALERIE LEE